Celebration, Abundance, and ConeXion

Welcome to the Carnaval of New Latinx Work

The following remarks were delivered by Lisa Portes on 19 July 2018 at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Carnaval of New Latinx Work at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. They have been edited here, but you can watch the video of the full event below. 

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to Chicago! Welcome to this space! We are so glad you are here.

My name is Lisa Portes, I head the Directing Program here at the beautiful Theatre School at DePaul University and I serve as Champion of the LTC Carnaval of New Latinx Work!

First, a few words about the LTC. LTC stands for Latinx Theatre Commons. For those of you who don’t know: “Latinx” is the term for men, women, trans, and non-binary people of Latin American descent. And we are a Commons—that means we are a virtual, digital, and actual public square. By being a part of this event, you are a member of the commons. If you go to our Facebook page, read an article on our digital platform Café Onda, comment on our website—you are a member of the commons. Truly anyone with anything to say or do in relation to Latinx theatre who chooses to use this public square is a member of the commons.

The commons uses a horizontal, rather than a vertical, power structure. There is no Artistic Director, President, CEO, Executive anybody anybody. We are run by a steering committee of sixty Latinx theatremakers from around the country who volunteer their time and minds to advocate for Latinx theatre as central to the American Theatre. Our work is facilitated by our LTC producer, the unstoppable Abigail Vega.

We defy this administration with a spirit of celebration, of abundance, and of connection.

My title is “Champion of the LTC Carnaval.” Each of our events has a champion or co-champions. The champion serves as the lightning rod for that event. But there’s a whole lotta people involved.

Let me show you how this works:

  • If you are a member of the Carnaval Selection Committee, please stand up!
  • If you are a member of the Carnaval Outreach Committee, please stand up!
  • If you’re a member of the Carnaval Programming Committee, please stand!
  • Resource Generation, please stand up!
  • Carnaval Host committee, please stand up!
  • If you are Abigail Vega, please stand up!

OK, these are all the LTC folks (along with their colleagues in the program) involved in creating the Carnaval. But—stay standing—there’s more. We gotta bring up our producing partners.

Let’s now include our partner theatres:

If you are a member of the Carnaval Advisory Board, thank you and please stand up!

And if you are with HowlRound, by God! Please stand up!

And finally, if you are here because you are excited and curious about Latinx theatre, please stand up.

Look at you! You are all the people who have made Carnaval happen!

Now please stay standing for one more minute:

Imagine a silver thread connecting all of you to one another and to our friends watching at home. 

That’s the Commons.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of our partners: the Chicago Community Trust, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Field Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The longer I am in this field the more I am filled with admiration, wonder, and gratitude for the progressiveness and advocacy of the funding community. Thank you.

Now, none of us would be here if we didn’t want to get to know some artists!

  • If you are a Carnaval playwright, please stand up!
  • Carnaval Director!
  • Dramaturg!
  • Designers!
  • Actors!

Look at this astonishing wealth of talent!

And again, before sitting, please imagine a silver thread connecting all of these Latinx artists to one another, and all of them to each of you and you to them.

Lisa stands at a podium while audience members stand and applaud
Photo by Adriana Gaviria. 

The theme of this year’s Carnaval is ConeXion. We hope each of you will take advantage of the many opportunities available to forge meaningful new connections with folks you haven’t yet met and deepen your connections with those you know and love.

Because my friends, these are dark times.

This administration has communicated loud and clear its hatred and contempt towards Latinx people, towards Latin American people, towards People of Color in general, towards the LGBTQ-plus community and the differently-abled community. As well as, I heard, the Canadians? I mean who hates Canadians? Apparently the only people they do like are…

Russian.

But, all joking aside, this administration gains its power by fomenting and feeding a sense of hopelessness, a sense that there’s not enough to go around, a sense of deep division.

We defy this administration with a spirit of celebration, of abundance, and of connection.

We are all one anothers’ keepers, my friends. We are all connected. And we are all citizens of these Great Americas.

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